Thea was over this weekend to give me my remedial lesson on how to find the grain in fabric. Until now, I have just been matching selvedges, working with a lot of knits and just plain hoping my fabric was on grain. To be honest, things have worked out so far, but I didn’t want to chance ruining my new silk twill border print dress. I didn’t want to spend all that time making a beautiful garment only to have it twist on me due to being off grain.
So Thea showed me how to fray the fabric until you find the straight grain all the way up and down the fabric, meaning no threads left that are shorter than the entire width of the fabric. Even matching selvedge to selvedge, my fabric was off grain by almost a whole inch on one side!. That could have put a serious twist in how my dress would have hung on my body and there would have been serious shouting! 😉
To fray the fabric, you pull threads one at a time from one selvedge to the other side until there are no more threads to pull. This is an easy method, but it takes a long time… I think fraying this fabric took me at least a good 1/2 hour, maybe even 45 minutes. And you have to find the grain for each pattern piece you cut out. That’s a serious time commitment my friends. But as I said earlier, it is important to cut out your fabric on grain. Good prep work in the beginning means smooth sailing and wearing later on, so it’s worth it to put in the effort now and have no regrets later.
There is another method, but it takes some practice. Snip into your fabric at the selvedge and pull one thread all the way out. The difficulty with this method is not breaking the thread before you have pulled it all the way out. Ask me how I know. 🙂 I was discussing it with Claudine over email yesterday and she suggested cutting as you go so if your thread breaks you can find it again. Great idea! I will definitely use that helpful hint in the future as this method is way faster than fraying the fabric. Actually it was Claudine that started me worrying me thinking about grain issues in the first place. Here’s an example with a pulled thread…
Ok, once you’ve found your grain, you need to adjust your fabric so it’s on grain and then you cut out your fabric! How do you do that you ask? Well, you use your handy dandy quilting ruler or some like thing. Fold your fabric over enough to fit your pattern piece on it and then measure down from the pulled thread or fringe equally all across the width of your fabric pinning as you go to maintain integrity. It’s as simple as that!
And voila! You will then have fabric that’s perfectly on grain and ready for cutting!
Now, I need your opinion please. I pulled a 5 hour sewing sweatshop last night and got a significant amount of my second Butterick 5147 dress done. I basted the side seams and now need to determine if I need to make any tweaks. Working with a non stretch fabric is very different for me especially in such a fitted dress. Wow! I think it might be too fitted now in the back and waist. Here are some pictures of it basted and unhemmed. Please let me know if I need to release the side seams a little.
Happy sewing everyone! And happy universal holiday too! (it’s my birthday today and I’m going to wear my Christian LaCroix skirt) 🙂